“If Gothic literature had a family tree, its twisted gnarled branches chock-full of imperiled, swooning heroines and mysterious monks, with ghosts who sit light on the branches, and Frankenstein’s monster who sits heavy, with troops of dwarves, and winking nuns, and stunted, mostly nonflammable babies, at its base would sit Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto.” Carrie Frye writes for Longreads about the history and personality behind the first Gothic novel, which turns 250 this year.
The New York Times‘ executive editor Bill Keller caused an uproar three months ago when he railed against Twitter and, specifically, how it was making us all dumb. (Or, after being challenged, was it for some other reason?) This month, he rails against his staff of reporters because they want to write books.
for actors who’ve considered suicide/when the matrix isn’t enuf: Keanu Reeves, who some years ago raised hackles when he played Shakespeare’s melancholy Dane, has now written a book-length poem called Ode to Happiness that pokes fun at excessive melancholy. “I draw a hot sorrow bath/In my despair room,” it begins.
Following up their publication of Charles Portis’s “Motel Life, Lower Reaches” online, the Oxford American brings us a speech in verse by Jay Jennings, the editor of a recent compilation of Portis’s work (which our own Bill Morris reviewed). Jennings delivered an ode to Portis to mark the author winning the Porter Prize Lifetime Achievement Award. Sample quote: “But you read the next book because the main character was from Little Rock,/and you knew no other book where the main character was from Little Rock/and you wanted to write a book about Little Rock.”